Sexist School Dress Code Includes 1 Line Of Directives For Boys, 4 Paragraphs For Girls
School dress codes are a hot topic these days. Namely, the fact that they are far more restrictive for girls than they ever are for boys. Anyone can see that there are more factors at play for girls as there is a wider variety of clothing options and more opportunity to “break” the rules. However, there is a way to properly word this information and not shame young girls in the process. This Iowa Catholic school apparently did not get the memo on the right way to approach a dress code with teenagers.
Check out this Tweet from an angry female student who attends the school that includes a copy of the dress code notice. This is for a school assembly, so we can assume that since it is a Catholic school, they typically wear uniforms. That may be the reason for the four paragraphs of instruction for girls. Sigh.
Institutionalized sexism… Thank you dowling catholic. pic.twitter.com/wb28FOAoAw
— Emily McGuire (@em_mcguire7) March 12, 2015
While I do understand the need for some guidelines, the wording is horribly sexist and offensive. And what is the obsession with covering shoulders? Who is distracted by a nice shoulder? It’s so strange to fixate on that body part. As far as telling the girls to “think modesty” and to pick something that draws attention to their achievements? That’s going way too far. Although revealing clothing might not be as much of an issue with boys, there are certainly outfits they could pick that would “detract” from their achievements as well. Ill-fitting pants, stained clothing, an improperly tied tie, etc. Why isn’t any of that mentioned? It is sexist to write so many instructions for the girls to make sure they don’t look immodest but to basically, leave the boys to their own devices so long as they are “classy”. Whatever the hell that means.
The school’s response to the student’s anger is typical and they do not back down at all from the wording of this memo. From Jezebel:
Dowling Catholic High School prides itself on preparing Christ-centered leaders for life. One aspect of that effort is to have an appropriate dress code for special events and assemblies. Every year, a memo is shared about guidelines for our Scholastic Achievement assembly and Baccalaureate Mass. Understandably, there is more attention given to the recommendation and guidelines for our female students, because there are more styles and options available for them.
Again, I don’t dispute that there are more options for girls and therefore, maybe a few more sentences are required to convey what mode of dress is appropriate. However, the section about attracting attention to achievements over their bodies? Inappropriate. Creepy. Wrong in every way. Had they left that whole thing out and not been so weirdly fixated on those sexy, sexy shoulders, I don’t think this would have been quite so bad.
From what I see available for teen girls in stores, I do understand that schools need to be specific sometimes so that girls know they cannot wear a teeny dress to a school function. Even for my seven-year old daughter, I have trouble finding dresses and skirts that I deem appropriate in length. Clothing for girls and women seems to be getting smaller and smaller — you can even compare shorts for little girls and boys and see that for the same size, a lot more fabric is included for the boy version. To that end, a simple “your dress or skirt cannot be higher than the tips of your fingers” would have sufficed. It can be done without shaming young women. I hope in the future, schools craft their dress codes with that in mind, because this wording is totally inappropriate.